As we head toward the Lunar New Year, it's important to keep in mind that it's not just Chinese New Year. Lunar New Year is celebrated by many Asian cultures such as South Korea and Vietnam. But not all Asian countries celebrate it. Japan and the Philippines, for example, are exceptions as they celebrate the new year according to the western solar calendar. (Here's a blog post I wrote about the subject in 2012.)
In time for potential Lunar New Year dining, here are two new Asian spots that have opened up over the past few months and one that's just about to open.
Heart and Seoul
As this is the ideal time of the year for hot pot, soups, and stews, a new Korean spot in Richmond chose a good time to launch.
Dolpan Seoul BBQ opened at 3779 Sexsmith Road in Richmond on December 10 (with a grand opening on December 13).
The restaurant is about 1,800 square feet and seats 50 people.
As for its name, owner Paul Lim explained that dol means stone and pan means grill. The reason Seoul was used in the name, rather than Korean, is because the grilling concept is popular among younger Korean generations in Seoul. Instead of the fire-pit style of grill, a more versatile pan grill is used.
Their grill sets, which include banchan (small side dishes), the intriguingly named egg volcano (which is a Korean-style egg soufflé), and soybean soup, offer meat options such as pork belly (the honeycomb pork belly is cut in a honeycomb-like shape), thinly sliced beef, or boneless short ribs (ranging from $17.95 to $32.95 per person).
There are also items such as bulgogi japchae (beef with sweet potato noodles), hot pots, soups, stews, and more.
As many of the dishes are anju (or food meant to be enjoyed with drinks), the drinks menu offers selections such as soju yogurt cocktails or makegeolli (Korean rice wine).
A sports-themed Korean eatery has expanded into the Richmond market.
Midam Café & Bistro opened its second location on January 20 at 1110–4651 Garden City Road in Richmond. It's 2,600 square feet and can seat 80 customers, with two party rooms that can each seat an additional 8 to 10 people.
Its first location is at 110A–4501 North Road in Burnaby, which is 3,300 square feet (which includes rice cake–making facilities) and can seat 50 to 60 customers.
Manager Jonathan Kim explained that the establishment first opened locally as a rice-cake café in Burnaby in 2009 (though the company originated in South Korea in 1998) but became a restaurant in 2014 that, thanks to a shared love for basketball among the staff, evolved towards a sports theme.
The premises are decorated with basketball memorabilia, posters, shoes, and more.
Meanwhile, the menu offers a range of both sweet and savoury Korean dishes.
Entrées include japchae (stir-fried with vegetables), spicy chicken with cheese, and seafood pancake with green onions.
There are also a variety of bibimbap, hot pots, and porridges (including kim chi, octopus, sweet red bean, and more).
No slouch in the dessert department, they offer delectable such as parfaits, rice cakes (including grilled rice cakes and rice cake toast), and shaved ice (with flavours such as strawberry tiramisu, black sesame, Oreo, watermelon, and more).
More to explore
Some other Asian restaurant openings and closings include:
• Hong Kong's Mott 32 has opened in downtown Vancouver
• Indonesian coffee shop Nusa Coffee opened in Kitsilano
• Haru Korean Kitchen opened in Gastown
• Mak N Ming opened in Kitsilano
• pan-Asian restaurant Oru Cuisine has closed at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Coal Harbour
• Miura Restaurant and Bar has closed on Main Street
• Japanese dessert spot Basho Café closed, with a new similar spot to take its place